The Access Initiative



TAI Europe includes non-governmental organizations and individuals from a number of European countries. TAI Europe’s major goal at present is to assess the progress and gaps in Europe on access rights through the creation of an Aarhus Convention Index.

Membership TAI Europe is represented in the Core Team by EMLA (Hungary). TAI Europe partners include:

  • Conduct evidence based assessments to evaluate the implementation of access rights in their own countries
  • Conduct advocacy on the UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making, and Access to Justice in Environmental matters (The Aarhus Convention) and within its Task forces. The Task forces, which currently cover the three pillars of the Convention (information, participation, justice), have completed detailed analyses on a variety of issues, e.g., public participation in Environmental Impact Assessments and access to information through electronic systems.
  • Work in their own countries at the national level seeking improvements in law and practice.
  • Use access rights in their work.
  • Work regionally to promote access rights in other countries.

Key Actions TAI Europe and WRI developed the Aarhus Convention Index in 2017 and piloted it in Serbia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Armenia, and the United Kingdom. The Index provides an assessment of any country’s laws and practices against the Aarhus Convention, including:

  • Enabling systematic measurement of Aarhus Convention compliance, comparable across countries.
  • Facilitating learning and dialogue by making comprehensive national-level compliance information accessible in a way that it has never been before.
  • Showing advocates, policy-makers and the public at large where progress is being made, where attention should be focused, and where best practice exists.
  • Helping countries to improve their compliance with the Aarhus Convention not only through systematic measurement, but also through accessible data and indicators with actionable results. Improved compliance will mean increased environmental transparency, public engagement, and access to justice—which are core principles of good governance.
  • Allowing stakeholders to track progress over time, to view the status of implementation at a range of scales (nationally, regionally, etc.), and to identify examples of best practice in a user-friendly format.

Results are available on the Resources page.

Regional standards for Environmental Democracy Europe stands as the only region in the world with a legally binding convention that supports the realization of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration . The Aarhus Convention, adopted in June 1998, is a groundbreaking international agreement on access to information, public participation, and access to justice in environmental matters. Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson has described the Convention as “truly a trailblazer [and] a key signpost for the future of human rights and the environment in all parts of the world.” The Convention established a legal standard for all three access rights in environmental matters with the aim of “contributing to the protection of the right of every person of present and future generations to live in an environment adequate to his or her health and well-being…” The Convention has become a focal point for civil society advocacy around environmental rights in practice.

The Aarhus Convention is “truly a trailblazer [and] a key signpost for the future of human rights and the environment in all parts of the world.”

There are 47 Parties to the Convention – 46 countries plus the EU in its own right. An independent Compliance Committee reviews compliance of Parties with their obligations under the Convention. The Convention Secretariat is composed of a small team in Geneva, Switzerland. A detailed implementation guide for Aarhus developed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe provides important information on the main provisions of the Convention. There is also a useful guide to case law of the Compliance Committee, prepared by the European ECO Forum.

TAI assessments have been conducted in 11 countries in the region, including Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Turkey and Ukraine. A water governance assessment was conducted in two countries, Estonia and Ireland, and a forestry assessment was conducted in Hungary.